The Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale is making visual arts an important part of their offerings in addition to performing arts through art exhibits, murals and art education talks.

Erin Tiedeman, an art and art history teacher at Greensburg Central Catholic High School, said there were several board positions opened earlier this year and the theater manager, Tyler Hanford, asked if she would be interested in serving.

“I suppose they were looking for someone to bring the visual arts into the theater,” she said. “I have always envisioned the theater incorporating all of the arts and becoming an education center.”

Mandy Onder, Geyer’s education director, said theater takes all types of artists.

“Our shows wouldn’t be what they are without our set designers, painters, and our tech crew — the unsung heroes,” she said. “The visual arts are important because we can take a moment in time and be transported back by the sets and design.”

Throughout the show season, Tiedeman will be giving art history talks on art in the specific time period of a the particular show that will be taking the stage.

This Saturday, in conjunction with the show “Guys and Dolls,” she will be lecturing on the Abstract Expressionists and breaking away from European tradition.

Tiedeman said knowledge is power, for any age.

“I also believe that learning through art history is one of the best ways to develop understanding of different periods in time and give us insight into modern day culture,” she said. “It is a passion project for me, I think the access to gain knowledge in art history is limited to people that attend liberal arts schools and are forced to take an art history class.”

On top of the lecture series, students involved in the education program at the Geyer will be displaying art of the 1940s and 1950s in the theater lobby this weekend.

Another aspect of Tiedeman’s vision as a new board member is creating a mural on the outside wall of the theater.

“We have talked for several years about the possibility of murals in the town itself to bring a different attraction, but with this particular mural, we will be doing a series of wings with the ‘spread your wings’ theme that we will be implementing next year, hopefully, with all of he education programs,” she said.

Tiedeman added that they hope to encourage people to take pictures in front of the wings.

“My hope is to launch a social media campaign along with the mural when we complete it,” she said.

Onder said she is excited for the mural to add some color to the walls of Scottdale.

“It’s no secret that Scottdale desperately needs some love and attention,” she said. “What better way to get people talking than art! We are hoping this will increase foot traffic in Scottdale.”

There are currently two dates set so far for students and community members to come out and help with the mural: 1-5 p.m. Sept. 15 and noon-4 p.m. Sept. 21.

Finally, Tiedeman has also created an adult art show and a student art show that will be held in the theater and the education center during the Scottdale Fall Festival Sept. 20-22.

“About eight years ago, I was the Laurel Art Club president, and I ran one of the shows for the festival, But I was early into my career and couldn’t dedicate the time to the art club that I wanted,” she said. “I was so sad when the art show stopped running, and I made it a mission of mine to somehow start it back up. It is such a nice opportunity for local artists to display their work.”

The children’s show for ages 18 and younger will be in the education center of the theater and the adult show will be in the theater lobby and apartment, depending on how much work they get for the first year.

They will be accepting all work this year in both shows, but the adult show will be juried with first-, second- and third-place winners in each category.

Submissions must be dropped off at the Geyer Performing Arts Center 1–8 p.m. Sept. 17 or 12:30-5 p.m. Sept. 18. All mediums will be accepted this year, and the size restraints are as follows: no larger than (2-D) 26” x 36” for 2D works and 12”x12”x12” for 3D works.

For the adult show, artists may submit one to two pieces and there is a $5 entry fee.

The children’s exhibition is not juried and there is no entry fee. Students can enter up to three pieces with same size expectations as the adult show.

Artists have the option to list their artwork for sale.

“I am looking forward to artists getting a chance to showcase their work to patrons who may not visit the theater as often as they’d like,” said Onder. “The doors will be open for all to enjoy art from local artists.”

Tiedeman said it is important to her to get the students involved in all three of these endeavors.

“I think empowering youth and the community is important,” she said. “I also think it is important to support all local artists and for them to have a space where they can have a voice.

“Finally, we as communities and cultures learn through art and begin to understand things about ourselves...if you look at the course of history the most highly functioning cultures produce high quality art work. I think that speaks volumes.”

Onder said Tiedeman has been such an asset to the Geyer’s board of directors.

“With the help of (theater manager) Tyler Handford, she has taken an initiative to connect our town with the humanities and visual arts,” said Onder. “I am so excited to see where this road leads us and what beautiful creations we can make along the way to make Scottdale better together.”

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